By Shelby Rowe Moyer
Inspired Coffee is finally open, and they’re serving up more than a good cup of joe.
The Lake Geneva coffee shop, which opened June 23, employs roughly 30 people with varying developmental and physical disabilities and has an overarching goal of training and coaching them in preparation for employment elsewhere.
“Think launching pad, not landing pad,” the company announced in a news release.
Spearheaded by Inspiration Ministries, a residential provider for adults with disabilities, the coffee shop is the brainchild of Erik Barber, president of the organization, who was looking to identify a vision for the nonprofit’s future.
When Barber took over as president, he began asking families and agencies dedicated to serving people with disabilities about the needs of that community. And the feedback he got was a lack of resources to provide training for people with special needs, so they could obtain stable employment.
During Barber’s research, he found about 50 coffee shops around the nation that employ people with disabilities, but Inspired Coffee is unique with its five-step process and ultimate goal of training and preparing employees for work in other places.
Roger Wolff, a founding member of the Inspired Coffee project, previously told At the Lake, “Our goal was to create a vocational opportunity for them [young adults with disabilities] to get out of the house and make money, and to get the community to realize that people with special needs have a role and a place in society.”
An estimated 6,300 people with disabilities live in Walworth County — an abundant pool of people who may want this kind of opportunity, Barber says.
The community has been supportive of the project from the beginning, with businesses providing seed money and many individuals donating to the cause to help the organization meet its $400,000 fundraising goal.
The coffee shop is serving up typical coffee fare, teas, fruity refreshers, and some baked goods. Mobile ordering is available as well as some in-house seating.
Because of the coronavirus, the shop has implemented some safety measures, including plexiglass dividers and the requirement that staff and customers wear masks. For information on hours, visit the shop online.